City Cottage Style Garden

Landscaping : O’Keefe Landscapes
Photography : Steven Wooster, Darryl Osada


At the rear of this early 19th Century property, a small walled ‘English Cottage Style Garden’ was created by informally planting an eclectic array of floral herbaceous and evergreen planting.

Although small and “wild” in nature, a versatile family garden, combining a lawn for children’s play, free flowing entertaining space, and border planting of Agapanthus, Aquilegia, Astrantia, Anemone, Digitalis, Geranium, Hebe, Iris, Paeonies, and Penstemon combined with the structure of Euphorbia, Heuchera, Rhododendron, Rodgersia and loosely clipped “Balls” of Pittosporum, against a backdrop of Jasmine entwined with climbing and rambling roses perfuming every aspect of the space.

At the front of the garden, two large, shallow terracotta “bowls” planted with Rhododendrons break the formality of the central ascending garden steps, adding dynamic floral brilliance with a wealth of spectacular colourful blooms against a backdrop of bold evergreen foliage. And at the base of each pot, naturalistic “cottage style” planting continues to disrupt and “break” the formality of any hard lines.

An established gnarled, leaning Pear tree (Pyrus), forms the “centrepiece” of this micro climate space, acting as a shielding “umbrella” to the lawn and the border planting beneath.

Running full length of the west facing side of the garden, a “wall” of pleached Pyrus chanticleer (pear) trees were  planted for architectural effect, forming the backbone and backdrop to a layering of shrubs (Viburnum plicatum Tomentosum ‘Mariesii’) and underplanting.

On the opposite side of the garden, an abundant display of woodland planting thrives in the shade beneath a series of five tall cylindrical  Italian terracotta pots which add formality along the brick path leading towards the Summerhouse. “Balls” of Skimmia Japonica add structure and winter colour to each pot, whilst below at ground level, evergreen Ferns, Hellebores and Snowdrops (Galanthus) do their magic. Mounds of Soleirolia (Mind-your-own-business); a vigorous creeping groundcover, softens the hard lines of the brick path by spilling over and blurring the edges…finding it’s way into cracks within the brick paving.

At First Floor Level, an aromatic “Herb Garden” contained within a terracotta trough, scents the First Floor Balcony and the Terrace below, suggesting a nostalgic “nod to the past” with a combination of Chives, Lemon Balm, Mint(s), Sage, Thyme and an abundance of Lavender.

A backdrop of Jasmine (Trachylospermum jasminoides), together with a climbing Rose entwined with Clematis echoes the repetition of the overall planting scheme.

A tapestry of weaving stems, together with voluptuous, fragrant and multi-petalled flowers add to the romanticism of this garden. Blowsy peonies and “old fashioned” rambling roses grow into billowy shapes against walls, above doors, and trailing from the garden walls and trellis on top of the Summerhouse. Free-flowering and self seeding plant choices help to continue naturalising the garden for the future …defining the naturalistic approach of this city garden.

The planting captures a sense of the traditional English Garden with a colour scheme inspired by the client’s trips to the countryside.

When night falls, a sophisticated lighting system adds drama and tone, illuminating the trees, highlighting planting in pots, whilst creating magical shadows and making this project a space to be enjoyed at all hours of the day.